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Neuromarketing is the application of neuroscience to commercial marketing research to study consumers’ cognitive and sensorimotor reactions to particular stimuli, often associated with their likelihood of buying the product or service being represented by the marketing message.


Neuromarketing Diagram shows the brain activity of a person using EEG as they react to different prices of a Starbucks coffee.



Neuromarketing FAQ’s


What is Neuromarketing?

The goal of neuromarketing — sometimes referred to as consumer neuroscience — is to gather empirical data using neuroscientific techniques to better understand consumer behavior and develop more effective marketing campaigns and products. Neuromarketing researchers apply biometrics to the traditional focus group through such technology as Electroencephalography (EEG), tracking participants’ neural responses to elements of a particular brand. A variety of neuromarketing methods are employed to obtain and decipher brain data to reveal subconscious consumer decision-making processes.


What are the Advantages of Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing in market research provides more depth and precision than qualitative research alone. Studies have found that data gathered from neural testing predicts future trends with more accuracy than traditional market research. Evaluating physiological proxies for brain activity bypasses such shortfalls as flawed recall and dishonesty in participants. Whether due to pressure to please or embarrassment, consumer responses are not necessarily an accurate representation of how the brain is actually reacting. One of the biggest benefits of neuromarketing is the ability to better understand the decision-making process of consumers with less influence on those decisions from their predispositions of a brand, style, product, market, genre, etc.

Neuromarketing pros and cons have been scrutinized by marketing researchers and neuroscientists alike, provoking debates on the ethics of what some may consider being potentially invasive technology. These concerns prompted the establishment of best practices by the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA). This general guideline includes such principles as: “Participants to any neuromarketing research project shall be guaranteed that their personal data is not made available to others;” “Neuromarketing researchers shall not deceive participants or exploit their lack of knowledge of neuroscience;” “Neuromarketing researchers involved in functional brain imaging shall disclose a protocol for dealing with incidental findings;” “Neuromarketing researchers shall allow their clients to audit the process by which neuromarketing insights are collected and processed.” Visit the NMSBA website for the full Code of Ethics.


Applications of Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing can be utilized for a range of consumer research opportunities, including measuring neural responses to product ads, packaging, price, and ease of use. EEG headsets monitor and localize spikes in electrical activity throughout the brain, providing real-time results that can be a proxy to assess emotional states affected by a variety of marketing elements. Researchers can assess levels of excitement or relaxation in response to different colors, track eye gaze exhibited during ads and website use, experiment with different product displays in order to decrease decision paralysis, measure activity in the brain’s pleasure center in response to product pricing, and determine points of agitation during product testing, among other applications.

Consumer neuroscience solutions and techniques also have a pervasive use case in the public sector and governments, everything from deterring toxic substance abuse through packaging tactics to rethinking obesity education strategies in advertising. For more about neuromarketing in the public sector, see: “Improving public health prevention with behavioral, cognitive and neuroscience” published by the Centre d’analyse strategique (France).


How Neurosciences are Reshaping Marketing

Interview of Olivier Oullier, Ph.D. (Neuroscientist and President of EMOTIV) on the Future of Consumer Behavior at L’Oreal’s Luxury Lab.

Olivier believes in an innovative methodology for neuromarketing rooted in neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, social and cognitive sciences to measure the gap between what people say and what they do. He uses functional neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG), eye-tracking, motion capture, facial emotion recognition and voice analysis to discover amazing consumer insights.



Neuromarketing Case Studies

There is an abundance of examples of neuromarketing as the technological innovation community continues its dynamic research in neuroscience applications. A 2012 study conducted at Emory University found that brain activity in participants significantly correlated with the future success of certain songs, as measured by sales three years later; however, when asked how they felt about the same songs, participants’ responses did not match their brain activity and did not predict sales. The electrical activity measured by fMRI was determined to be a more accurate indicator of actual feelings toward the future success of songs.

Similarly, a research study published in 2017 by Samuel B. Barnett and Moran Cerf of Northwestern University concluded that EEG readings are gathered from participants watching movie trailers predicted with 20 percent more accuracy of the future success of those movies than traditional research methods.

A study conducted at University College London’s Department of Experimental Psychology examined whether audio or video content generated more user engagement, ultimately concluding that audio elicited stronger reactions. Participants presented with both audiobook and video segments of intense scenes rated the video segments as “more engaging,” whereas their physiological responses indicated that the audio segments were more engaging, based upon readings of elevated heart rate, temperature, and skin conductance.


Neuromarketing Methods

Neuromarketing methods involve a variety of techniques, such as eye-tracking, galvanic skin response (GSR), implicit measures, facial-coding, fMRI, and EEG. fMRI and EEG are the two primary tools used for scanning the brain — fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) detects changes in oxygenated blood flow in response to cognitive tasks, correlating to neural activity, whereas EEG measures brain activity by detecting and amplifying electrical signals that are captured and analyzed to determine the subject’s response to the stimuli.


EEG for Neuromarketing

A popular methodology is Electroencephalography (EEG) Neuromarketing, the only technique that is capable of capturing brain activity at the speed of cognition. EEG Neuromarketing research incorporates simple, lightweight, wireless EEG headsets that measure brainwave activity during focus group testing, at which point researchers can examine inter-subject synchrony of that brain data and make predictions for their campaign. EMOTIV offers a range of robust software solutions that provide a suite of algorithms that can detect human emotion(s). Researchers can analyze real-time bioinformatics or download datasets for further analysis. They can also integrate biometric sensors like facial expression and eye-tracking analyses with EEG measurements for a comprehensive neuromarketing platform.


Does EMOTIV Offer Neuromarketing Solutions?

Neuroscience has become a powerful tool in consumer insight market research, providing unprecedented access to the subconscious mind. EMOTIV offers a full suite of hardware and software solutions for EEG Neuromarketing research. Emotiv’s EPOC X EEG headset includes 14 sensors in a fixed configuration for fast and simple set up. Users can conduct in-the-go research with the ability to wirelessly record and transmit professional-grade data at 128 or 256 Hz, at a fraction of the cost of traditional research-grade devices. Combine with EmotivPRO software to view a real-time display of Emotiv headset data streams, including raw EEG, performance metrics, motion data, data packet acquisition, loss, and contact quality.

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